One in four adolescents in California—nearly one million—aren’t getting as much physical activity as they need to maintain a healthy weight. When a young Latino child living in a highly industrialized community gets out to play, how much good does that physical activity do her growing lungs if she’s inhaling a toxic soup of air pollution and greenhouse gases? What if she is more likely to get struck by a speeding car than she is to benefit from a lifetime of physical activity? For an African American child who has no nearby park, safe sidewalks or fresh air, there’s got to be a better answer.
A constellation of factors in the physical, social, economic and service environment are referred to as the social determinants of health because they have an overwhelming influence on health, quality of life and death rates, as compared to medical care — which is only responsible for 10-15 percent of what determines how healthy we are and how long we live.
In 2008, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 375, the first piece of legislation in any state that tied transportation choices to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. The legislation, authored by Senator Darrell Steinberg, required that planning regions create transportation plans that would reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
As more and more regions adopt these plans, an obvious flaw is emerging. Plans are only as good as the money that exists to implement them. With funding scarce, many of these plans will likely gather dust.
Steinberg went back to work. His first piece of legislation to address this shortfall was vetoed by Governor Brown last year. Brown felt that the timing wasn’t right for legislation that gave municipalities the power to create agencies similar to the Community Redevelopment Agencies he had just ordered dismantled. That didn’t stop Steinberg from reintroducing similar legislation,